Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Bryce, our Scoutcraft director last summer, has secured a donation of a very nice Meade 8-inch reflecting telescope for use at camp. We'll be using it for Astronomy Merit Badge for Boy Scouts as well as stargazing parties for Webelos.

Bryce also took this great time-lapse picture at the fort over the summer. We'll be offering Photography Merit Badge this year, and Bryce and some of our other talented staff members will share tips and techniques for taking cool pictures like this.

You can find more pictures from summer 2012 on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Being Bear Safe

A bear incident in the Los Padres National Forest earlier this month serves as a reminder of the importance of bear safety in the outdoors.

In mid-October, a woman walking her dogs on the Gridley Trail near Ojai encountered a female black bear and her cub. The bear, probably startled and defending her cub from a perceived threat, scratched the woman and knocked her down, then fled. The woman was not seriously injured, but the Forest Service has closed the trail temporarily as a precaution.

Bears are common throughout the Los Padres, including the area around Three Falls. That's no reason to stay away -- the fact is, our bears are quite shy and bear encounters are rare in our area. I've camped hundreds of nights in the Los Padres and haven't seen one yet. But it pays to be careful. Don't hike alone, don't tempt bears by leaving food accessible around your campsite, and don't ever bring food into your tent.

The Forest Service has some good resources about bear safety, including videos and PowerPoints that should be useful for training Scouts, at this site.

Friday, October 26, 2012

New Eagle-Required Badges in 2014

The National Council has announced that Cooking Merit Badge will become an Eagle-required badge effective January 1, 2014. Cooking was required for Eagle for many years, but was dropped in the 1970s.

The requirements are reportedly being revised, but we don't have any details yet. There was a time when this was a common summer camp badge, but the current requirements don't lend themselves so well to a summer camp setting. We'll be watching for the revisions to see if it makes sense to bring this one back to Three Falls  in 2014.

BSA also announced that it is adding a new merit badge called Sustainability. This will also be Eagle-required, as an alternative to Environmental Science (just as Scouts can currently choose between Lifesaving and Emergency Preparedness, or select Hiking or Cycling instead of Swimming). This one is supposed to be rolled out next summer at Jamboree. We'll also be looking at Sustainability as a possible addition to our program in 2014.

The Bryan on Scouting blog, written by one of the editors at Scouting magazine, has an article on these merit badges and is a good source of news on future BSA advancement changes.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Dates have been set for Winter Camp at Three Falls. This year's sessions are:

January 11-13
January 25-27
February 8-10

Price will be announced soon.

Winter Camp is for Boy Scouts, Varsity and Venturing Scouts. Meals are provided in the dining hall, but you must provide your own tents. Be prepared for freezing temperatures and possible snow.

The flyer will be posted soon on the council web site.